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Skills Your Child Needs Before They Learn to Read

Skills Your Child Needs Before They Learn to Read

Child learning to readPrior to learning to read, research has proven that a child must possess six skills. Parents can assist in a child’s reading readiness by focusing on these skills early. Begin working with your child when they are very young (birth to two-years-old), and focus on the following six pre-reading skills:


Children typically know between 300 and 500 words when they are two. Parents can assist by talking, listening and answering a child using short sentences and speaking clearly. Ask a lot of questions! Read to your child everyday and identify the pictures in the books. Research has shown a direct correlation between a good reader and a large vocabulary.

Print Motivation

Simply stated, a child’s interest level in reading and enjoying books. Children who enjoy being read to possess the motivation to learn how to read. Begin reading books early with your child and make it a bonding moment for both of you. A child learns by example; so make sure they see you reading and don’t forget to visit your local library.

Print Awareness

The ability to recognize print, possessing the knowledge on how to hold and read a book (left to right, top to bottom). Familiarity with books and printed language assists children in understanding the usefulness of printed materials. Let your child hold board or cloth books. As you read point to the words and pictures.

Narrative Skills.

A child needs to possess the skills to describe events and things; the ability to tell a story. Tell your child stories and talk about what you are doing. Talk about your child’s day and listen to what they are saying. Try to ask questions. As always, read books. Talking to your child will assist them in comprehending what they read.

Phonological Awareness

A child’s ability to identify sounds in words will assist a child in sounding out words when reading. Say and read nursery rhymes to your child; place emphasis on the rhyming words. A great activity to assist children in hearing the syllables in words is singing. Our family loves the book, Miss Mary Mack, which promotes phonological awareness via clapping, singing and rhyming.

Letter Knowledge

A child’s needs to be able to identify the letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Read alphabet books. Our family loves reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
As you go through the day point out letters and objects and talk about their size, shape and color. A great way to introduce the letters of the alphabet and their basic phonic sounds is to play Erudition™!

Source: A Parent Guide to Early Literacy for Early Talkers: Birth to Two-Year-Olds ~ PLA/ALSC, divisions of the American Library Association ~ Chicago, IL 60611

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